Sunday, November 11, 2018


A sunny morning in late Fall, a quiet Sunday morning. A scrub jay complaining somewhere offstage. Shadows of leaves. Reflections from the birdbath making wavery lines on the hedge, as if the whole world were lightly underwater. Beyond, through the thin spots of the hedge, the sun wavers on the neighbor's lawn and chicken run as well, and slantwise to that a few yellow bamboo leaves drift down.

There's a huge sadness behind me. I'm curled like a cat in its lap, feeling the rise and fall of its breath. Who knew it would take so long? How many corners would be turned, to reveal further corners in the far distance?

But. To practical things. Start the chili, get a shower, go into work and get a few processes underway. I'm getting better at inhabiting my life, at bringing my attention to what's actually under my hands. Thinking about shopping and cooking and cleaning, deploying my resources of time and attention as if I actually meant to have the life that I have. I have camped in my life too much, spent too much time in it as if it was a hotel room rather than a house. I've indulged myself too much, ordering stuff in and leaving it to the staff to clean up: that's one way to look at it. Or you could say, I have indulged myself too little: I've never bothered to make myself really at home. I'm trying to do that now. 

But today I'm wistful, and full of regrets and second thoughts. Other half-lived lives move away, out of my range of vision. If I try to look straight at them they disappear.

A book I read recently suggested that I write about what my life will be like ten years from now, when all my dreams have come true and all my projects are accomplished. The exercise was so foreign to me -- entailed thinking so differently than I usually think -- that I resolved to do it. But I've failed so far to get started. Ten years, who knows if I even have ten years? What should I be hoping for? What might I be trying to do, in that time scale? I think in the main it's a good thing not to be obsess on the future, not to make life something that's going to happen later when I've achieved X or obtained Y. But drawing a complete blank on one's future is maybe taking it too far. And surely how I order my life implies its ten-year goals, for better or worse? My habits and daily activities point to some ten-year conclusion: is it one I want? 


Pascale Parinda said...

This being 60 is so strange to me. I am looking at a 20 year timeline (presuming I don't get eaten up by dementia or drop dead of a heart attack, both possible given my family history).

I can't even begin to plan for this time. I have lived day-to-day and month-to-month for so long now the notion of planning for a longer stretch is not even possible for me.

And other than a bundle of inclinations and interests, I have no idea who I actually am.

Dale said...

Yeah. I don't think the author of my book even thought about readers who would say "well, ten years, that puts me in the endgame, right?" :-)

Jo said...

Ah, I don't like this conversation.

I think the best way to deal with the massive fear it arouses is with pictures. Don't worry about goals. Find images of things and situations that feel perfect and ideal to you. Make a (ahem) vision board. Put it on the wall. It's easier than trying to put form and words on it and releases you from the impossibilities of making those things come true.

I don't want to think about fifty, because of that short hop to sixty and then the very visible endgame. My mother died at fifty-seven. It's all too short, it's all too hard, and I have the people I created and their uncertain futures to worry about. Staying in bed and worring about it all seems to be the most likely response...

Sabine said...

The advice from that book sounds lonely and sad. Should we really figure out a personal wishlist for ten years based on our individual dreams? We are social animals and live in a very volatile environment.

If we worry, and of course we do, let's at least share it somewhat. I can see a better outcome that way.